From Urban Enclave to Ethnoburb: Changes in Residential Patterns of Chinese Immigrants
Korzeniewicz, Roberto Patricio
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In recent decades, immigrant settlement in the United States has undergone tremendous changes. Chinese immigrants, who have long been known for their concentration in inner city Chinatowns, now are increasingly becoming suburban residents. In contrast to the predictions of the spatial assimilation model, many suburban Chinese immigrants are not assimilating into mainstream society culturally and structurally; rather, they are forming ethnic clusters of residential areas and business districts in suburbs--ethnoburbs. Little theoretical explanation has been offered for the emergence and growth of ethnoburbs. Focusing on the Chinese community in the Greater Washington, DC metropolitan area, in this dissertation I first portray the changes in residential patterns of Chinese immigrants and verify the emergence of ethnoburbs in DC area by Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping; second, I reevaluate spatial assimilation theory by analyzing degree of segregation and predictor of residential location using 1970 and 2010 IPUMS data; third, I conduct in-depth interviews with community leaders and residents from DC's Chinatown and inner suburbs to further examine spatial assimilation theory and to provide individual perspectives about the changing dynamics of the Chinese community in DC area; last, I propose new conceptual models to address the nature and implications of studying ethnoburbs. My conclusion is that the changes in the residential patterns of Chinese immigrants reflect a "paradoxical outcome" of assimilation (Zhou 2009). As the assimilation theory predicts, many Chinese immigrants have transformed their socioeconomic gains to spatial mobility and residential assimilation into white-dominant suburbs; however, the emergence and growth of ethnoburbs contradicts some of the predictions of the assimilation model. Rather, as Li (2009) has proposed, ethnoburbs have emerged under the influence of the changing local and global economy, race relations, immigration policies, and increasing transnational connections. Further research will be needed to predict how long ethnoburbs will persist.